PARKER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Teddy Bear Patrol provides new stuffed animals to first responders to give to children they encounter during emergency situations. The stuffed animals give the children something to hold on to and to comfort them in a scary situation. For some families that small kindness has a big impact.
“Initially, he just had a severe nose bleed,” said Andrea vanMeenen.
VanMeenen’s son, Ryker Smeltzer, went to SkyRidge Medical Center on Valentine’s Day 2018. His nose would not stop bleeding. Soon doctors decided to transport Ryker to Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children by ambulance. That’s when he got Brownie, a Teddy bear.
“He’s my favorite. I cuddle with him every night,” Ryker,told CBS4.
At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Ryker’s condition took a turn for the worse.
“Suddenly everything’s quickly going down hill,” vanMeenen explained. “He had major bruising and bleeding, and really scary blood work. He went into cardiac arrest during one of the tests, was taken into the pediatric ICU, then he went into cardiac arrest again. Things didn’t look good.”
VanMeenen and her husband, Noah Smeltzer, describe the situation as terrifying, the worst feeling you can image. Sometime in the middle of all of the chaos, Ryker was given Chocolate, another Teddy bear to comfort him.
Ryker was eventually diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, that made it so he couldn’t stop bleeding. He was treated, and now he’s back to being a precocious 6-year-old.
“Brownie and Chocolate were the best Teddy’s ever,” he told CBS4’s Karen Leigh.
“How important is it for little kids like you to have a Brownie or a Chocolate when they’re at the hospital?” Leigh asked.
“Brownie and Chocolate were so important,” Ryker replied.
The bears never left his side, even during all the medical tests and procedures.
“It was comforting having the bears for him and for us,” vanMeenen said.
Even now, more than a year later, Ryker keeps is Teddy bears close. They are close friends.
“He sleeps with them every night,” Noah Smeltzer says.
“Every night,” vanMeenen confirms.
CBS4 is partnered with KOSI 101.1 and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children to collect new stuffed animals for the Teddy Bear Patrol. Here is a list of donation locations.
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children is also hosting the Teddy Bear Patrol Community Party on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The party is a family friendly event, giving children an opportunity to familiarize themselves with medical settings and equipment in a fun, relaxing atmosphere. There will be first aid lessons for kids, Teddy bear x-rays, and other medical activities.